Not too long ago the snake oil salesmen came to town. They spent days convincing the locals that their lives were in danger. They called meetings to show the path to salvation and good health. Heck they even had a shill in the audience to encourage the locals to donate to their cause.
They quoted science when no science existed. They presented studies as fact that they themselves created. They successfully divided a community and then blamed it on some ogre from over the big water. Their lies prompted parents to terrify their children that the birds would go away and the stars would dim. Just what we need – more neurotic children.
What am I talking about here? Windmills. Devices that burn no fuel and produce electricity.
We’ve heard calls for independent studies when dozens of studies have been done over the last 20 years by multiple universities in multiple countries; studies done by real scientists and groups of medical doctors that concluded that the snake oil salesmen’s claims were baseless. These studies were not done by the grad students employed by the snake oil salesmen and their gypsy crew. (apologies to Gypsies)
Oh sure they trotted out their token MD or two. But all of them lived near Wind Farms. They also trotted out pseudo experts to drive home their points. You know – the dairy farmer who had a “background in Electrical Engineering”? The phrase “a background in electrical engineering” says one thing to me and that is that he is NOT an electrical engineer. Gee I studied electricity in high school. Does that give me a “background in electrical engineering”?
They conveniently forgot to mention that wind power is not a new situation. I personally saw many wind turbines of the same size as will be built in Bellwood in 1999 during a visit to Germany. Indeed the first electricity producing wind turbine in the US was created in 1888. The first utility grid-connected wind turbine operated in the UK was built by John Brown & Company in 1954 in the Orkney Islands. It had an 18 meter diameter, three-bladed rotor and a rated output of 100 kW. That was 55 years ago and turbines are much more efficient now.
They also conveniently forget to mention that the Germans are far more ecologically stringent than Canadians will ever be. You can’t even use oil based paints in residential construction for the last 15 years. The Germans also employ over 100,000 people in the wind energy industry and produce over 7.5% of all the electricity consumed in the country. A quick check of the Internet shows that Germany installed 866 Wind turbines of the size in Bellwood in 2008. And for the most part these wind farms are surrounded with people who actually like them.
Indeed, Lower Saxony has 6,028 MW of wind power, making it the state with the most installed capacity. A number of states now provide more than one third of their electricity generation from wind energy: Saxony-Anhalt (42.6%), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (39.4%), Schleswig-Holstein (38.3%) and Brandenburg (34.1%). In leading wind states, about 1% of the total spatial area is dedicated for wind farms and single turbines.
If wind farms are as dangerous as they say why have we not heard of hundreds of class action suits? The snake oil salesmen say it is because the energy firms are shady and fly by night. Do a little Google check of Florida Light and Power. I spent some time in the energy business and know them well.
In fact it is because no competent lawyers will take one on – the snake oil salesmen’s claims are not actionable and the lawyers won’t waste their time.
So I urge people to really investigate before they jump to conclusions that Wind and Solar Energy are dangerous. If they do some research they will see that this is simply a true example of organized NIMBYISM. And it is truly ugly.
Just because the snake oil salesmen tell you something – doesn’t mean that it is true.
In 1998, I visited my good friend Micheal in Germany.
I was amazed how diligent the Germans were with recycling and the environment. Micheal rented a cottage on the grounds of Castle Eisenbach, in Laubach. On the way, I was amazed to see wind turbines dotting the hillsides surrounding that beautiful castle.
When I asked him about the turbines, he said the local “county” created a co-op and built a wind farm as a local initiative to reduce energy costs and keep the air clean. That was apparently very common at the time. Much has been written lately about local opposition to wind farms. There have been wild, unsubstantiated claims about health issues, noise levels, property values, stray voltage and damage to wildlife etc.
Opponents of wind energy repeatedly call for new independent studies about the effects, but fail to mention extensive independent studies already conducted in other countries – as well as in Canada. There have been hundreds, but no opponents think those reflect their situation. They don’t seem independent enough.
A recent writer spoke about noise levels of 105db at the base of the wind tower. Even if that was true, who lives at the base of a wind tower? All wind towers must be set back from buildings. Independent studies show at 350 meters the sound is about the same as a quiet room inside a home or the noise caused by wildlife at night in the country (35 to 40db). Normal city traffic noise is about 80db.
For more information visit: www.whywind.org, a website built by ordinary citizens of Amherst Island, near Kingston who support a wind farm on their island.
The site exposes myths surrounding wind energy and has over 30 independent studies that support the wind proposition.
Another cited the unreliability of wind power and the need to build additional natural gas generators. They state the generators are just as bad as coal fired ones we are now forced to use. That, too, is misleading. The writer cited the David Suzuki Foundation as proof but was careful to pluck a single idea out of the greater context of the foundation’s position.
Visit www.davidsuzuki.org/Climate_Change/Energy/ for the foundation’s true perspective. It supports wind energy as well as solar.
The quote from the site: “Danish manufacturers have quadrupled their production of wind turbines over the past four years – growing faster than even the explosive cellular phone industry. If this current rate of growth continues, the industry could employ the entire Danish population in 15 years.”
That is the crux of the recent Ontario government decision to embrace renewable energy for employment and economic reasons. We need new ways of employing people and new products to sell. What better way than to create new technologies that will allow us to get away from dirty energy sources like Alberta’s Oil Sands – energy our current federal government promotes?
I was born in Centre Wellington and lived in Toronto for the first 30 years of my adult life. One reason I returned was some days in Toronto my lungs ached from pollution and I had trouble getting breath. I was amazed to find on some days the air is no better here than the city. The city and all the cars were not the only factor.
It turns out a lot of air pollution we experience in Ontario is from coal fired power plants, combined with coal plants in the Ohio Valley.
If your readers take the time to separate facts from opinion, I am confident they will also embrace renewable energy; for their own health and for the health of their children.
Regarding Michael Soma’s assertion that the Harper Government was correct to de-fund KAIROS because they are anti-Semitic:
I have three bones of contention here.
First, Mr. Sona uses an opinion columnist Rosie Dimanno of the Toronto Star as an expert in anti-Semitism. Ms Dimanno has a history of sensationalist writing and complete support for the state of Israel, its settlements and its battle against the Palestinian people. A quick Google found http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/10287 an 2003 article written about Ms, Dimanno’s attitudes (which obviously have not changed).
Secondly, he seems to feel that any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel automatically makes you anti-Semitic. The current wikipedia definition of anti-Semitic begins:
Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is prejudice against or hostility towards Jews, often rooted in hatred of their ethnic background, culture, or religion. While the term’s etymology might suggest that antisemitism is directed against all Semitic peoples, since the term was invented it has been used to refer exclusively to hostility toward Jews. In its extreme form, it “attributes to the Jews an exceptional position among all other civilisations, defames them as an inferior group and denies their being part of the nation[s]” in which they reside.
I encourage readers to look up the term for themselves.
Thirdly, it is offensive to me that writers leading organized political movements fail to identify themselves when they advance a political agenda in the media. Mr. Soma is listed as the president of the University of Guelph Conservative Party.
And for the record;
I don’t belong to any political party.
I have many Jewish Friends but still support the right of both the Israelis and the Palestinian people to have a home.
I applaud KAIROS as an unusual organization that shows that religions can actually work together to advance human rights and unite the world.